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What Are Nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds occur when tissues inside your nose lose blood – usually in one nostril. Common causes include irritated, dry skin or the common cold. Nosebleeds are common in the wintertime when air is dry.

Nosebleeds typically happen in tissues dividing your nose (nasal septum). This is easier to stop. Nosebleeds can start higher or deeper, in your sinuses or skull base. They’re harder to control, but most aren’t life-threatening.

Risk Factors

  • Allergies, colds, sneezing or sinus conditions
  • Blood thinners or aspirin
  • Cold or dry air
  • Blowing hard or picking at scabs
  • Broken nose or injuries
  • Surgery
  • Structural disorders
  • Infections
  • Inhaled medications, chemicals or drugs
  • Nasal spray overuse
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Cocaine

Frequent nosebleeds can indicate high blood pressure, a tumor or a bleeding disorder.


Symptoms typically involve blood from one side of your nose. Heavy bleeding can overflow into the other side. Blood can drip down your throat causing you to spit up blood. Though rare, signs of excessive blood loss include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Weakness

When to Call the Doctor

  • You or your child has frequent nosebleeds.
  • Nosebleeds aren’t due to a cold or minor irritation.
  • Nosebleeds happen after surgery.

Symptoms Requiring Emergency Care

  • Bleeding lasts over 20 minutes.
  • A nosebleed occurs after a head injury (possible skull fracture).
  • Your nose was hit, injured or broken (crooked).

Stopping a Nosebleed

  • While seated, squeeze the soft part of your nose tightly (do not lie down). Hold 10 minutes, leaning forward to avoid swallowing blood.
  • Apply a cold pad or icepack. Wait several hours before blowing or sniffling.
  • Try nasal spray decongestants.

Treatment Options

  • Managing blood pressure
  • Treating blood vessels with heat, electric current or silver nitrate
  • Nasal packing
  • Surgery for broken nose
  • Removing foreign object
  • Adjusting blood thinner medicine or stopping aspirin
  • Treating problems that keeps your blood from clotting normally

Your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of a nosebleed, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat nosebleeds.